Was John F. Kennedy Jr. Planning to Pursue Politics Before His Death?

John F. Kennedy Junior’s plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, just shy of his destination on July 16, 1999. Twenty years after the ill-fated flight and subsequent search for the 35th president’s son, wife, and sister-in-law, the world is still fascinated by the young Kennedy and his lost potential. If he hadn’t perished 20 years ago, what would he be doing now? Would the younger John F. Kennedy have remained married? Would he have actively involved himself in politics, would he have continued his life in the public eye? It’s hard to say, but there are some indications that he did have some political aspirations. 

Did JFK Jr. plan a life in politics?

John F. Kennedy Jr. endeared himself to the population when he was pictured saluting his father’s casket decades ago. As the years marched on, his boyish good looks and charisma made him a source of obsession. An entire world turned to see what JFK Jr. was going to do, and many believed he’d become a political force eventually. 

A Young John F. Kennedy Jr. | Photo By: Getty Images

In fact, many believe that the younger Kennedy was planning to run for an open seat in the Senate just before his death. According to The New York Daily Newstwo friends confirmed that he was mulling over the elected position at the time of his death. The two friends have different recollections of just how serious he was about it all, though. One suggesting that JFK Jr. was quietly considering it over, while another suggested he had pretty big plans to get involved. Hillary Clinton would eventually go on to win the seat in question. 

What stopped a legislative run?

While his friend and historian Steven Gillon noted that JFK Jr. did seriously consider a shot at the Senate, he also claims there was too much going on for him to take on the race in the year leading up to his death. According to Vanity Fair, Kennedy’s marriage was crumbling before his very eyes. Rumors swirled that his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, was cheating. Friends and alleged insiders suggested the young Kennedy found himself in therapy when the intimacy in his marriage became non-existent. 

John Kennedy, Jr. | Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images

Aside from trouble in his marriage, Kennedy was dealing with his failing magazine. George wasn’t doing well, and while he was allegedly hopeful that things could be turned around, the position was precarious at best. Simply put, there was just too much for Kennedy to deal with to seriously consider moving into politics at that moment. 

Where did JFK Jr. see himself eventually?

Gillon told Town and Country that JFK Jr. never saw himself as a legislator. Instead, he claims his friend saw himself in an executive role. In the year leading up to his death, things weren’t going particularly well. Troubled personal and professional lives may have muddied the waters for JFK Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy
John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy | Photo by Rose Hartman/Getty Images

His marriage was marred by breakup rumors, and his family life was less than stellar. He was also dealing with a crumbling magazine, and a falling out with his sister. As if that wasn’t enough, he was coming to terms with a massive legacy looming in front of him. Still, the idea of politics danced in his mind. Gillon guesses that he might have considered a gubernatorial run eventually, something that suited his executive mindset, but it’s hard to say if it would have ever happened, or if he would have been successful in his pursuit.

Dead by 38, there were years of unfulfilled potential and unfinished business. Gillon notes that he doesn’t like to speculate about what could have been. Instead, he prefers to focus on what JFK Jr. did accomplish in his short life.